Foreign Ministry downplays trust in North Korea

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Foreign Ministry downplays trust in North Korea

President Yoon Suk Yeol and some 150 people including government officials and experts from the private sector are briefed by the Foreign and Defense Ministries at the Blue House's state guest house Yeongbingwan in Seoul on Wednesday. [PRESIDENTIAL OFFICE]

President Yoon Suk Yeol and some 150 people including government officials and experts from the private sector are briefed by the Foreign and Defense Ministries at the Blue House's state guest house Yeongbingwan in Seoul on Wednesday. [PRESIDENTIAL OFFICE]

 
The South Korean Foreign Ministry is giving up on trusting North Korea and going back to foreign policy principles like relying on its allies, including the U.S.  
 
"We are completely moving away from peace that relies on the good will of the other party such as a declaration to end the [Korean] war," President Yoon Suk Yeol said Wednesday. "As we are a country that aims for peace, we will never consider invasive war.
 
"However, we have to be prepared for everything to exercise our strong autonomy when there is a provocation that threatens our freedom and peace." 
 
In a report to Yoon on Wednesday, the Foreign Ministry said the Moon Jae-in administration’s approach to North Korea was a failure and that a one-sided “appeasement policy” threatened Korea’s national security, noting rising nuclear and missile threats from North Korea.  
 
“If North Korea pushes on with a serious provocation such as its seventh nuclear test, our government will response with unprecedented measures including international solidarity through the United Nations Security Council and our own restrictions,” said Foreign Minister Park Jin on Wednesday.  
 
The Foreign Ministry will also focus on exposing North Korean cyber activities, which it believes finance North Korea’s development of missiles and nuclear weapons.  
 
It will pay more attention to human rights in North Korea, which were ignored by the previous administration.  
 
The ministry said the South Korean government will still attempt to have flexible dialogue with North Korea, especially on denuclearization. But the negotiations would have to be productive and with the cooperation of allies.  
 
This year, the foreign ministry plans to focus on strengthening international cooperation through diverse channels, especially as this year marks the 70th anniversary of the Korea-U.S. alliance.  
 
The ministry will also try to repair the relationship with Japan, emphasizing such shared values as democracy.  
 
The ministry said South Korea, the U.S. and Japan will work on strengthening national security cooperation and in other areas too, including climate change and health.  
 
South Korea’s diplomatic strengths must be widened through a solidarity with allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific region that share the same values.  
 
If it achieves deeper and wider cooperation with the international community, North Korea will realize that the world's objection to its nuclear arsenal will hurt it in the long run.  
 
On China, the foreign minister will try to arrange meetings between President Yoon and President Xi Jinping including a possible visit to Seoul.  
 
Xi last visit to Seoul was in 2014.  
 
“On diplomacy with China, we plan to create a healthy and mature relationship with mutual respect based on standards and rules,” said a spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry.
 
The Foreign Ministry this year also plans to get more involved in economics including supply chains by actively seeking cooperation on the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework as well as semiconductor cooperation among the U.S., Japan and Thailand.  
 
The ministry said it will use its diplomatic connections to arrange supplies of key minerals and materials including essential components for electric vehicles.  
 
 

BY LEE HO-JEONG, ESTHER CHUNG [lee.hojeong@joongang.co.kr]
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